Residential Earthquake Prone Building Financial Assistance Scheme

Last updated: 4 April 2022

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Applications are now open for the Residential Earthquake-Prone Building Financial Assistance Scheme.

The loan scheme, which was announced in Budget 2019, will help unit owner-occupiers in REPBs facing hardship over earthquake strengthening costs – particularly those in areas of high seismic risk.

The Scheme is being delivered and managed by Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities on behalf of the Crown. To apply for the Scheme visit the Kāinga Ora website.

This page has been updated following the outcomes of the 12-month review of the scheme.

Applicant eligibility

Applicants must:

  • Be a New Zealand citizen, or ordinarily resident in New Zealand, or overseas persons allowed under the Overseas Investment Act 2005
  • Be an owner-occupier of that household unit for the duration of the loan, or a former-owner occupier who only owns one property (on the condition that the applicant returns to live in the property or sells within two years of the property being removed from the EPB register)
  • Demonstrate:
    • the inability to obtain finance for EPB seismic retrofit from a Reserve Bank of New Zealand registered bank or non-bank deposit taker; or
    • where finance from one of the above entities can be obtained it is conditional upon the unit being sold when the building is no longer earthquake prone; or
    • where finance from one of the above entities can be obtained, but would cause the owner significant financial hardship.
  • Have an adequate financial standing, based on not being:
    • in default of a mortgage, charge, or another security
    • subject to a Court Order or Tenancy Tribunal Order
    • currently insolvent.

If you're a home owner who receives a loan under this scheme from Kāinga Ora, you cannot get an Accommodation Supplement from Work and Income. If you're already getting an Accommodation Supplement, this will stop from the date you get the loan from Kāinga Ora. You won't be able to get an Accommodation Supplement until you've repaid the loan and the mortgage obligation is discharged.

Unit and building eligibility

  • The Scheme will be limited to units purchased before 1 July 2017 or units purchased prior to being confirmed as earthquake-prone;
  • The unit must be within a building in an area of high seismic risk and which is two or more storeys and contains three or more household units (or is a household unit within a mixed use building);
  • The unit must be within a building where the relevant territorial authority has issued a earthquake-prone building notice.

Loans

  • Loans are only for seismic retrofit to achieve seismic performance up to 100% NBS - i.e. no more than 100% NBS;
  • The maximum loan secured against any one unit will not exceed $250,000 (but with limited discretion for the Chief Executive of Kāinga Ora to approve amounts above this level on a case-by-case basis);
  • Loans will become repayable on the unit’s sale, 12 months after the last owner’s death, if the owner moves out of the unit or if the borrower defaults. Borrower default refers to a situation where there is another mortgage on the property and the borrower defaults on that loan and/or they become personally insolvent or obtain a loan by deception. If the loan was granted while the owner was not occupying the unit, the loan also becomes repayable if the owner has not sold or moved back into the unit within two years of it being removed from the Earthquake-prone Building Register;
  • The loan provides for voluntary loan repayments (with no early repayment fees);
  • Loans will be secured by a mortgage, charge, or another security against the unit’s record of title (or equivalent);
  • Applications to the Scheme will close on 30 June 2027;

Interest rate settings for the Scheme

  • The below market interest rate for the Scheme will be set at 50 percent of the sum of the Reserve Bank's monthly average of five year fixed interest rates.
  • The interest rates will be fixed for five years with rate reviews at loan anniversary and interest rates will be calculated daily and compound annually.

12 month review

MBIE completed a 12-month review of the Residential Earthquake-prone Building Financial Assistance Scheme in October 2021, which was informed by targeted consultation undertaken during July and August 2021.

The review aimed to find out whether the current settings of the scheme are working to achieve the Scheme's objective and intent.

It found that most settings are still aligned with the Financial Assistance Scheme's objective, but some require refinement to help the scheme achieve its intent.

Recommendations in the review report have informed Cabinet's decision to expand eligibility for the scheme and adjust some scheme settings.

The table below shows the Government's response to the review's recommendations:

Review recommendation Government response
1 Options are considered to allow flexibility on eligibility in limited circumstances where potential applicants to the Scheme do not meet the eligibility criteria but are experiencing genuine financial hardship that is in line with the intent of the Scheme. Former owner-occupiers who only own one property and meet all other eligibility criteria are now eligible for the Scheme. They must sell the unit or move back in within two years of the building's removal from the Earthquake-prone Building Register, or their loan will come due.
2 Consideration is given to the appropriateness of the 1 July 2017 cut-off date for eligibility to the Scheme, particularly in cases where the building's earthquake-prone building status was unknown at the time of purchase. The cut-off date for building purchase has been expanded to include owners who purchased their unit prior to the date that their building was confirmed as earthquake-prone.
3 Guidance is developed on situations where the Kāinga Ora Chief Executive's discretion may be appropriate. MBIE is working with Kāinga Ora to provide clarity on this.
4 Simplifying and better aligning the application process with the stages of the remediation process, including:
  • providing provisional confirmation of eligibility (similar to a mortgage pre-approval) earlier in the process
  • considering removing the requirement for a credit check.
  • considering removing the requirement for a $500 application establishment fee.
MBIE is working with Kāinga Ora on a process for providing provisional confirmation of eligibility.

The requirement for a credit check has been removed.

The requirement for an establishment fee has been removed.
5 Further exploration of the requirement for building insurance, and whether flexibility regarding the requirement for applicants to have building insurance in some circumstances would be in line with the Scheme's objective.  The insurance requirement has been adjusted to require that all loans are secured by full insurance where possible, and where full cover is not feasible a loan may be granted where the building has fire cover and where strengthening will bring the building to an insurable level.
6 Further work to understand the interaction between the Work and Income accommodation supplement and the Scheme. MBIE will advise the Minister for Building and Construction on this issue.
7 Exploring whether there is a simpler way to calculate interest, including reconsideration of the role of the low equity margin. The interest rate has been adjusted to 50 per cent of the Reserve Bank's monthly average of five-year fixed interest rate, and the 1.25 per cent low equity margin has been removed.
8 Modifying the communication around the interest rate, particularly the use of the term "low equity margin", to improve how people engage with and perceive the Scheme as a below market interest rate, deferred payment, and a loan of last resort.  The interest rate calculation has been simplified and the low equity margin removed.
9 - 13 MBIE recommends the following issues be considered by the broader earthquake-prone building work programme, in parallel with any changes to the Scheme:
  • The government's objectives for supporting remediation and compliance with the Earthquake-prone Building System, including potential outcomes outside the limited scope of the Scheme
  • Options for addressing the broader barriers to remediation, including but not limited to those that impact people’s ability to apply for the Scheme
  • Options for supporting a range of remediation outcomes for buildings
  • Options for providing financial support (either loans or grants) for the range of costs associated with the remediation process
  • The appropriate mechanisms for delivering additional support, including through channels that already exist, as well as a possible remediation support service.
MBIE is considering these issues as part of a broader earthquake-prone building work programme.

MBIE will continue to monitor uptake of the scheme to ensure it is achieving its intent and identify what additional support could be provided to support compliance with the earthquake-prone building requirements. Any changes to the Financial Assistance Scheme outside these parameters will require Cabinet approval.

Residential Earthquake-proneBuilding Financial Assistance Scheme 12-month Review - mbie.govt.nz

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: